Episode #19: Genes, jelly and ghosts

Daisy de Melker

The nineteenth episode of Consilience is out! You can download the mp3 here (19mb) and the file’s page on Archive.org is here.

Teaching Angela to appreciate history

July 20th, 1822, was the birthday of Gregor Mendel, the “father of modern genetics”. (Subject of a nice Google Doodle).

Listener feedback

Via Pablo: Gaia does have mirrors, two of them, in fact. “Inside are the two telescopes, each consisting of three curved, rectangular mirrors, a beam combiner and two flat rectangular mirrors. The largest mirror in each telescope is 1.45 m by 0.5 m.”


The Food and Agricultural of the United Nations has declared that rinderpest, a cattle disease, is now extinct in the wild. (Story via Chris Birkett)

South Sudan, Africa’s newest country, is fighting the guinea worm. Hopefully it will join rinderpest soon…

Jelly made from people! Frankenjelly! (No, not really – the actual story is still interesting though).

Dawn has reached Vesta, the 2nd largest object in the asteroid belt. (Dawn as in the NASA spacecraft, not the Pakistani newspaper). Chalk up another win for the Discovery programme.

Carte Blanche insert of fail. (Story via Tauriq Moosa). Baconian vs. Galilean experiments. The serial killer we kept referring to was Daisy de Melker. Doctor Spurt’s superb piece on the misuse of the concept “energy” is here.


“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” ~ Terry Pratchett, The Hogfather. 


Durban: Skeptics in the Pub – Thursday, 21 July, 18:00. Venue TBD. Topic “Angry skepticism – do you know an angry skeptic, do you think they hurt the cause of Skepticism?”

Johannesburg: SpeaktoaScientist – Thursday, 28 July, 18:30. Sci Bono Discovery Centre, Miriam Makeba St, Newtown, Johannesburg. Speaker: Cedric Abrahams of Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa, Topic: “Science in Science Fiction”.



About Michael Meadon

Michael Meadon is a graduate student in cognitive science at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. When he's not procrastinating online or propitiating his wife, he investigates the effects of rapid & unreflective facial judgments on political elections. He expects to graduate any decade now. When he was an innocent undergrad Michael studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at the University of Cape Town. Unfortunately, he had to find out for himself that "social" and "science" often don't go so well together.
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2 Responses to Episode #19: Genes, jelly and ghosts

  1. Tom Maydon says:

    Hi guys…don’t know what happened, but the audio quality this week wasn’t great. Anyway, just wanted to let you know about a Nutrition article in today’s (27th July) Business Day (page 6). It’s titled “Why organic food really is best”. Would be great to hear your view on it…if you can’t get hold of a copy, I can scan in the article (can’t find it online). It’s written by dietician Ashleigh Caradas. She can be contacted on ashleigh@intelihealth.co.za .

    Whereas there are some fair points, some immediate problems with the article are:
    1. The “Natural” fallacy
    2. Confirmation bias of any pro-organic study, and dismissive approach to unfavourable studies
    3. Lack of controls in certain studies, i.e. choosing an organic farm that has good crop-rotation and farming practices versus a badly run “non-organic” farm.
    4. The false claim that organic farming is necessarily better for the environmental (false because smaller yields could lead to us requiring more farm land and therefore cutting down more virgin bush/forrest/jungle)

    Anyway, would be good to have your feedback.

    • Angela says:

      Hey Tom,
      Thank you for the suggestion. I will try to find the article, but don’t throw it out just yet, we might need that scanned copy.
      Once again, we apologise for the sound quality. We are working on a solution (I swear!), but as three relatively sound-engineering-ignorant dupes, we are doing our homework and trying to strike the best balance.
      Please give us a little more time, it will come right soon!

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